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Training 3 On/1 Off with Low Carb Diet


I have a very basic, yet complex, question. Part of me feels stupid for asking but i'm just hoping someone knows something I dont. I'm on a low carb diet and I'm wanting to start working each muscle group twice a week. 3 days on 1 day off. Recovery is the issue that I'm seeing. My diet is at least 200g protein a day and no more than 50g carbs a day. 27g oatmeal for breakfast and 20g dextrose post workout. I have stable energy now. My recovery times suck though. I workout 6 days on and 1 off right now. It normally takes 2-4 days for the pain to be gone after a workout.

My question is, is it possible to move to a 3 day on 1 day off schedule and get enough rest so i wont burn out? I know if I dont recover fully before a workout I'll be hurting my progress. Another issue is CNS recovery. I do drop sets to failure on every workout I do. I'm really taxing my CNS with that. Theres a lot of straining going on. I'm wanting to know if you guys see this schedule change as a possibility without changing my diet? I guess i'm hoping theres a perfect supplement that would increase recovery and allow me to do this but I doubt it.

I just feel I can do soooo much more than what I'm doing now. I have been reading on this site for months and I know a lot of you guys know your stuff. I'm hoping, if this is possible, the right person with the right knowledge will point me in the right direction.

I started this diet weighing 194 lbs and 21% bodyfat. I'm about to start week 7 of my diet and I weigh 195 lbs and i'm 14%-15% bodyfat. I have been keeping a log of my weekly measurements and my morning and night weights. My measurements are increasing (arms, legs, chest, shoulders) but my weight is staying fairly stable while the fat is pouring off. I'm wanting to get down to around 8% and then I'll up my carbs to attempt bigger gains.

I'm looking for magic here guys.


Do you have pics from before and now. No offense but I know guys who ran AAS with impecable diet and great training who have not recomped there body that fast. A 7% decrease in body fat while not only maintaining strength and size and weight you added to each is insane progress in 7 weeks... Why would you want to change anything at all?


Pretty much this. If you really are seeing great progress, why screw around with it? Just because you're sore between workouts?

What exactly does your training look like (the days, exercises, sets, and reps) with your current 6 day schedule?


reed had it right, why change anything? but I will offer my experience with this to you. I trained with the 3 on 1 off schedule for about half a year. set up like: lower,Upper Push,Upper Pull,off. I never had any problem with recovery, but then again I wasn't doing drop sets in every workout.


Ok so theres a problem with before and after pics. I never thought this diet would do anything for me. My first progress picture came at week four. I did attach a picture of me from almost a year ago (its the only one I could find with my shirt off). I was scared to take my shirt off in public. Im very self conscious. I looked pretty much the same when I started the diet. I attached another picture from week 5. My main picture is of me a few days ago

My workout now is something a trainer told me about. Push until theres nothing left. My sets are not set at a certain number. If I have another set in me, I push it out. My first set is to 12. I usually get a little bit of a strain on the last rep of the first set. Everything after that is to failure. Then I drop the weight and do it again. I go up a weight every week(the smallest increment available). I dont really have a clue on max because Ive never done it. I also sprint and swim on alternate days.

Chest monday
bis tuesday
shoulders wednesday
tris thursday
back friday
abs & legs saturday

As for the diet, Im not only low carb, Im low fat 3 days per week. Im a true noob in terms of diet. This is the first diet ive ever been on. My diet before this consisted of fast food 3 meals per day and junk food snacks inbetween meals. I was gonna quit after a few days because I couldnt handle the misery of going from eating anything I wanted to only eating foods i hated, then I looked in the mirror on day 3 and saw a difference. Thats is what truly motivated me. It wasnt until later I found that the loss I had seen on day 3 was probably pure water weight. That doesnt matter though because that was the motivation I needed.

Im wanting to switch things up because Im scared that my body will get used to the routine and my progress will slow or stop. I dont want to hit a wall.


Ok so the week 5 picture didnt show up


so run it til you hit that wall, and then adjust w/ a little nudge to diet, conditioning, or routine.

you say your arms, legs, chest, and shoulders all increased... what about waist?


I haven't been measuring my waist. My waist can't get any smaller. My pants ride on my hip bones. There is a little muscle on top but that's only gonna get thicker. I have really wide hips. I guess my body thought i was a girl until half way through puberty. I also have a mild form of gyno. I believe its called puffy nipple areola complex. I just pinch my nipples before a picture and they look great. Haha. Ill never be smaller than a 34 waist. I did have a slight overhang with the belly and love handles. The overhang is gone.


As others have pointed out, if you're making good progress, why change?

That being said, I'm not a fan of 1x/week bodypart splits for unassisted and/or newb lifters, and you're both. As for a 3 on/1 off split, I think it's an excellent choice (I made my best progress doing 3/1). Push/legs/pull is a good way to organize it, as the legs-in-the-middle setup allows for some upper-body down time. There are many other ways to cut the deck, though.

Re doing lots of drop sets/failure work: Others will likely disagree, but I see no problem with this for a newb. At this early stage in your development, you have so little muscle that training to failure is unlikely to overtax your recovery abilities. This is also why I feel your concerns about a 3/1 split 'preventing full recovery' and/or 'overtaxing the CNS' are unwarranted. So if you like working that way, and feel you make progress doing so, I see no reason to stop.

Re diet: If you find yourself experiencing excessive soreness, consider switching out the AM oatmeal carbs for a bolus of intra-workout dextrose-and-hydrolyzed protein (along the lines of what John Meadows recommends). By doing this, you could keep your low-carb macros the same, but have them distributed in a more goal-oriented and effective manner. Best of luck reaching your goals.


That's a funky sounding routine, so I'll just suggest squeezing more progress out of it until results actually start to slow down, then consider a different plan.

In other words, you're carb cycling... hopefully. Some days with lower carbs, some days with lower fat, more never really low carbs and low fat on the same day, right?

Fat is essential for all sorts of body functions, not to mention growth and recovery. Read up on carb cycling to make sure you're not short-changing yourself. Here's a start, that also talks about the pros and cons of low fat diets:

Compliance goes a long way in making a diet successful. There's no reason you should feel like you're eating foods you hate. There are tons of recipes around the site, so use the Search and try to enjoy (at least a little) whatever you end up eating.


At first I wasn't carb cycling but I've learned better now. As for the foods I hate, I could be completely happy being a vegetarian. I've never been a very big meat eater. My favorite meal is mashed potatoes and biscuits. So I'm stuck with meat now. It sucks but the results I'm getting are making it well worth it. I feel so much healthier.

There will be a day that I go back to mostly carbs but that's not gonna happen until I find a way to do it without hurting my goals. Once I hit sub 10% body fat, I'm there to stay. Even if I'm never allowed to go back to meals comprised of nothing but carbs


What is it about meat you don't like?

Besides whatever ethical issues you may have with it... it sounds like you just generally dislike meat. If that's the case, there's really such a wide spectrum of flavors and textures out there, that we can probably find something you do like.


As others have mentioned, why change things if you're making that kind of progress? I can imagine a deload week or a "cheat week" - where by cheat I mean maintenance calories for a week, but I'd only consider those if you're feeling weak, tired, etc. to a high degree.

I'm also in a recomp phase after having been out of the gym for 3 years. Starting at 220lbs, 39" waist, 30% bodyfat. Been at it 11 weeks, at 213lbs, 34.5" waist, 20%, so similar progress. Dropping 2lbs of fat a week isn't hard for someone going from zero to all out, and maintaining bodyweight due to newbie muscle growth is also not shocking. This kind of progress would be shocking for someone who had been doing a good job for the past couple of years though.

For ref, the following is my lifting and diet (and all the haters, please don't drown me with negative replies):
I do 4 exercises: One arm lat pulls in a machine; pin presses in the power rack (arms somewhat flared out so more a bodybuilding style bench press, but I set the pins so that my upper arm goes only to parallel); leg press (legs bent to 90 degrees); and calf raises.
2~3 times a week, I play volleyball for a couple hours.
Supps: lots of coffee in the morning. HOT-ROX, green tea extract, green coffee bean extract, 7-keto (200mg) x twice a day. 5g creatine every day, lift or no lift. And of course, protein.

M: No lifting, no vball. Nothing but ~30g of whey every 3 hours until dinner time which is right before I go to sleep. I eat a bag of lettuce (with low calorie dressing), chicken (though occasionally some small portions of beef or pork), fish oil. 250g protein, 50g fat, <10g carbs.

T: No lifting, Yes vball. Nothing but ~30g of whey every 3 hours until dinner time which is right before I go to sleep. I eat a bag of lettuce (with low calorie dressing), chicken (though occasionally some small portions of beef or pork), fish oil. 250g protein, 50g fat, <10g carbs.

W: Max, dynamic, and explosive effort lifting at end of day, a few hours before sleeping. Work up to single 1RM (likely lower than true 1RM due to the carb restriction), 5x3 starting at 60% of your 1RM of day ramping down in weight to around 40%, maximum speed and effort on each set. Same schedule with whey, except I will take 5g of Leucine before and after the workout in addition to the whey, and use low carb whey hydrolysates in place of normal whey isolates. When I get back, I eat a bag of lettuce (with low calorie dressing), reasonable portions of beef or pork, fish oil, and if I feel crazy, a piece of fruit like a cup of watermelon, apple, orange, or mango. 250g protein, 100g fat, <50g carbs. I may skip the afternoon HOT-ROX dose since it's a bit strong for me when combined with lifting.

T: No lifting, Yes vball. Nothing but ~30g of whey every 3 hours until dinner time which is right before I go to sleep. I eat a bag of lettuce (with low calorie dressing), chicken (though occasionally some small portions of beef or pork), fish oil. 250g protein, 50g fat, <10g carbs.

F: No lifting, no vball. Nothing but ~30g of whey every 3 hours until dinner time which is right before I go to sleep. However, here I have a cheat meal. I take 5g leucine and 25g whey hydro 45 min before the meal. I still eat a bag of lettuce (with low calorie dressing). Then I eat my cheat meal and make sure I get at least 80g of protein. Still take the fish oil.

S: Skip the morning HOT-ROX because I don't like lifting too much with it. Have 75~100g of easy to digest carbs. Work out ~ 2hrs after getting up. Use 75~100g of dextrose with 75g of whey hydrolysates as pre+peri workout. 50g dextrose, 35g whey hydro, 5g leucine post. Work out takes around 3 hours. For leg press and pin press, I work up to a target weight and attempt 8x5 with that weight. Often, the workout ends up being 5x5, and a bunch of 4s and 3s until I hit >35 reps. For lats (least injured part), I work up to a single and then do 8x3 with a target weight. Calves (my most injured part), I do 3x15 on a target weight. For now, I attempt a 5lb increase in pin presses and 2.5lb increases in lat pulls per week. I don't count calories, except use the same idea of leucine + whey 45 min before any big meal, bag of lettuce (or if eating out, 10g mix of glucomannan and psyllium husk in pills) first, and make sure I get my protein in the meal.

S: No lifting, Yes vball. Similar intake as day before, except no peri and post workout drinks, and instead use leucine + whey hydro (5g+30g) first thing in morning, after vball, and before my big dinner.

Obviously, the diet is lax since it leaves Fri night, Sat, and Sun for real food. It also means that if I stop making progress, I know exactly what to do (reduce cheat meal numbers starting with Sunday dinner or put hard set restrictions on calories during those meals). Itâ??s working well enough for now (2lbs per week fat loss), not too stressful, gym times are reasonable (one 2hr weekday session, 1 3hr weekend session), and barely puts a dent on any social outings and eatings. Wed lifts are not easy, but itâ??s because the muscles feel like gumby. With enough sleep + caffeine, CNS hasnâ??t been the limit for me. I feel the Friday cheat meal is my most important one since it gives me the energy for the big lifting session the next day.

Hope this might give some idea of alternatives. Every person's goals and needs and such are different, but for me, this is what works so sticking till it stops working.


I really wish I could have cheat meals but my personality doesn't allow for moderation. I'm a person of extremes. I'm either all in or I'm nothing. If I cheated just once, i fear that would be the end of my diet. I'm not willing to risk it. I guess I'm gonna have to attempt the 3 on 1 off and see how I do. I honestly don't think my recovery times will allow it but there's only one way to find out i guess. Ill post pictures when my diet is over. I started the diet with a goal of 12% body fat. Now I'm seeing that I can shatter that goal. Now my goal is less exact. I'm gonna keep going until Im impressed with the guy in the mirror. I'm gonna do it as fast as I can but I'm not saying 12 weeks or 16 weeks or any other exact timeframe. I'm just saying ill be done when I'm done.

Thanx guys for all of your help. You helped a lot. You gave me a lot to think about. Much appreciated.


As for the reason I don't like meat.....i dont really knkw why. Its good but my preference has always been carbs. No ethical reasons. If given the choice of any meal, no meat would be involved. I've been told that my metabolism is high but I got skinny fat because no ones metabolism could keep up with the amount of carbs that I was eating. Now the exception to that rule is McDonald's. I love McDonald's. Ronald McDonald is pissed at me because I told him we can't be friends anymore


Well, one could go with a "carb reload" meal or "metabolism boosting" meal instead of cheat meal. The difference being you have it planned with strict limits on carb and fat content of the meal. You would go online, figure out the nutritional content of the McDonald's menu, the Pizza Hut menu, etc, and you really know your options before ordering. I'm not going to say that is the key, but bad recovery could come from not having real meals / a little kick to your metabolism's rear end. But as others have suggested, I'd add fats first and see how that goes.


Definitely focus on whatever gets you through the day/week. Eventually it'll just become habit.

Chris Shugart has written a bunch about it, but the more often you cook for yourself, the better. There are a ton of recipes over in this forum:

I'm almost positive there have been some "muscle-building/fat loss friendly" mashed potato recipes, and probably some homemade biscuit substitutes in there. Or just start a thread and ask for ideas. Maybe spend some time over the weekend experimenting in the kitchen. If you're not a great, or even decent, cook right now, learning even one or two go-to recipes you can put together might make things seem easier.


I may be just a weirdo, but for me, 4 days a week eating a bag of lettuce (granted I have about 10 types of low cal dressing) with already cooked chicken (low fat, no carb, frozen or packed from the supermarket) has been easy. Minimal prep time, and cycling the dressing can make it less boring. And oh, the combo of bag of lettuce night before + morning coffee definitely helps clean the pipeline.